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SAN FRANCISCO-With its approximately 545,000-sf lease at 1155 Battery St. set to expire at the end of 2012, Levi Strauss & Co. has retained Staubach Co. to help it decide its future in real estate. Its options include remaining at Levi Plaza, relocating within the city or relocating outside the city but still in the Bay Area. Beyond that, it must choose between existing buildings and new development.

A source with Levi tells GlobeSt.com that the company has been out of the market for several years and wants to have a good understanding of the current rental rates for a renewal versus the other options. “This background work is standard when considering a long-term lease commitment and our company policies require competitive bidding on all our contracts,” he states in an email. “We have hired the Staubach Company to assist with this work.”

Whatever it does, it appears that it will be in a smaller footprint. A local broker confirmed for GlobeSt.com that Staubach sent out RFPs on behalf of Levi for 300,000 sf of office space. While substantially less than it currently leases, 300,000 sf may not be substantially less than the company currently occupies, as it subleases a portion of its space.

Known as Levi’s Plaza, 1155 Battery St. has a total of 838,000 sf of office space. The building owner is Gerson Bakar and Assoc., which retains Interland Jalson as the third party property manager. Interland deferred questions to Gerson Bakar’s Stephen LoPristi, who was not immediately available Wednesday afternoon for comment.

According to published reports, painful cost-cutting and a sharper fashion sense has put Levi Stauss’ sales on the mend the last couple of years after a decade of erosion caused by the loss of market share to both less expensive brands and more expensive brands.

Given its frugal recent history–and the fact that the company had been based in San Francisco since its founding in 1853, and the initials “S.F.” are printed on the buttons of it well-known jeans–local industry sources tell GlobeSt.com that the company likely would not relocate outside San Francisco and likely would not pay the premium for newly built space. Both decisions would add seemingly unnecessary costs, they say.

Then again, the company broke from tradition last year and hired an outside chairman for the company, Gary Rogers, formerly chief executive of Oakland-based Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. Founded by Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss and currently owned by some of his descendants, the Hass family, Levi Strauss Inc. generated $4.36 billion in revenue last year, up from approximately $4.19 billion in 2006 and $4.22 in 2005.

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